Time for a mini-update on my wedding planning. See below for a spattering of musings about the injustices of the wedding industry, and my first wedding-industry-related "plug."
Spattering of musings: Aside from those mythical impromptu Vegas events, most weddings require at least some planning. Indeed, according to Rebecca Mead, author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, there's a $161-billion wedding industry that survives - nay, thrives - on the constant one-up-womanship of brides (and mothers-of-the-brides) who are determined to not embarrass themselves with a sub-par event. As much as we like to think of weddings as revolving solely around romantic commitment, weddings are also deeply embedded within in a highly gendered consumer culture. Further, I am convinced that the wedding industry thrives on reinforcing (and sometimes creating!) women's insecurities about their appearance, which totally stinks.(Don't worry, I'll save my lecture on the sexism and hetero-sexism of the traditional "institution" of marriage for my long-suffering students.)
Okay, getting back to American weddings and consumer culture: these two things are - in my humble opinion - married to each other (pun intended). This is not news to anybody who has planned a wedding in the past few decades.Personally, I have mixed feelings about my own role as a consumer-bride. The penny-pinching bargain-reveller in me is thrilled by such an epic challenge, but I am simultaneously peeved and appalled by the seemingly unavoidable and ridiculous expenses involved in getting hitched in a relatively normal wedding. For context: I come from pragmatic stock. My always-grounded Minnesotan dad, upon hearing that my wedding dress was going to cost $700 (!!!), sputtered: "Uff-da! That's before the 85% discount, right? Whooee!" Bless his heart. (And bless my more-knowing-of-these-things mom for shushing him with raves about what a truly great deal it was!) Now if only I'd managed to avoid buying that other dress... Uff-da, indeed!
First wedding-industry-related plug: The insanity-potential of wedding planning has gone so much further than my annoying body image woes, or a $700 dress of questionable bargain-worthiness. Sadly, the bridal-hype has spurred a snarky cultural obsession with epic "bridezillas," to whom I refuse to provide links. Happily, there is a massive-and-growing collection of books and websites (including mine, I hope!) devoted to helping the betrothed keep budgets and emotions in check throughout the process. My favorite of those in the latter group, thus far, has been this gorgeously sane and emotionally resonant website: www.apracticalwedding.com (emphasis on the practical, and "APR" to those in the know!). From essays exploring issues of "Gender and Feminism" ... from the groom's perspective (I laughed), to memoirs of a wedding entangled with the greatest of losses (I cried), and inspiring reflections on body image (I fist-pumped), this website is rooted in "a lot of grounded smart-alecky women talking intelligently about their weddings and marriages" (as explained by founder Meg Keene). It is totally up my alley, and I will someday beg Ms. Meg to post my own nuptial memoirs on her "Wedding Graduates" blog. Highly recommended.
Okay - any other brides or former-brides out there? If yes, I'd love to hear how you've managed to balance expenses/epic wedding dreams/sanity, etc.. Post your thoughts in comments here, or email me at mirror.mirror.OFF.the.wall [at] gmail.com!
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